Pusat Penelitian dan Pengembangan Pendidikan Matematika Realistik Indonesia Sekolah Tinggi Keguruan dan Ilmu Pendidikan

Motivational in Learning Mathematics

Motivational in Learning Mathematics


Motivational beliefs act as favourable contexts for learning and also refer to the student’s opinion of the efficiency or effectiveness of learning and teaching methods (Boekarts, 2002). Beliefs are about inner control that can be separated to self-efficacy beliefs and outcome expectation. Self-eficacy beliefs are beliefs about holding student’s ability by themselves in relation with specific domain, such as “I believe that I can do this type of mathematics problem”. Outcome expectations are beliefs about the achievement or failure in specific domain, such as “I have not answered this question before and I do not have any idea with it. I am certainly blank in my mind. ” However, other researchers said motivational beliefs are motivation.

Motivation is usually defined as an internal state that arouses, directs, and maintains behaviour (Woolfolk, 2008). But simply stated motivation is a reason of student’s thinking in a given situation. In Self-Determination Theory, we distinguish between different types of motivation based on different reasons or goals – intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation refers to doing something because it is certainly interesting or enjoyable. While extrinsic motivation refers to doing something because it leads to a separable outcome. (Ryan & Deci, 2000)

The framework that can be used to inform motivation student for achievement in learning mathematics is the previous data. Researchers have found that even though achievement, ability, and perceived competence each contribute to students’ desire to learn mathematics, intrinsic motivation appears to decrease developmentally (Lepper, 2005). They tend to internalize the activity’s initially external regulation in which people tend to take the regulation and integrate it with their sense of self (Ryan & Deci, 2000). It is likely that students must feel comfortable with mathematics, must be challenged to achieve, and must expect to succeed before the development of intrinsic motivation can begin.

Main Question

In this essay, I will explain the following question: What is the body of knowledge related to motivation in learning mathematics?

The studies that explain an enhancing or inhibiting students’ motivation

Focused from the journal for research in mathematics education which has been made by James A. Middleton and Photini A. Spanias, the researcher show inequities in mathematics education are reflected in students’ motivational patterns, and the role of the teacher in enhancing or inhibiting students’ motivation. This research is resulted by collecting many researches in previous time. They describe results in terms of classroom practices that facilitate or inhibit students’ developing productive motivational patterns.

  • Goal theories: Relating Mathematics to what is valued

Students are concerned with understanding how student think about learning mathematics in meaningful (or meaningless) activity, and also concerned with understanding how reasons for success and failure are related to what is valued.

  • The interplay between goal structures and intrinsic motivation

A student may enjoy solving story problems in arithmetic and yet feel that her ability is praised by his/her teacher or peers. In such cases, the ego goal of gaining favourable judgments may begin to destruct her intrinsic enjoyment of the task.

  • Theories of the-Self: Personal-Construct Theories

Constructing approaches in the study of motivation is to describe construct systems of individuals in order to uncover the ways they evaluate activities, such as some sort of “mapping” of the relationships between constructs to ascertain the cognitive structure underlying the motivation.

  • Constructing an intrinsic motivation for mathematics

Children tended to organize their constructs into three general categories: arousal, or the cognitive stimulation afforded by an activity; personal control, or the degree to which the activity was considered a free choice or of appropriate difficulty; and interests (a loosely defined category), or the degree to which the students liked the activity, the importance of the activity, and their ability in performing the activity.

Although the current research on motivation in mathematics education has provided profound insights into why students achieve and why they fail, there are some criticisms concern to the lack of theoretical guidance driving the conduct of the majority of studies. The research on motivational variables in mathematics education has been primarily descriptive and inadequately conceptualized. Often motivation has been described to add a little thing to studies originally focused on other factors—such as mathematics achievement (James & Photini, 1999).


Drawing together the findings from the studies reviewed in this article, we are beginning to define the body of knowledge pertaining to motivation in mathematics as it exists today. First, findings across theoretical orientations indicate that students’ perceptions of success in mathematics are highly influential in forming their motivational attitudes. Second, motivations toward mathematics are developed early, are highly stable over time, and are influenced greatly by teacher actions and attitudes. Third, providing opportunities for students to develop intrinsic motivation in mathematics is generally superior to providing extrinsic incentives for achievement. Fourth, inequities exist in the ways in which some groups of students in mathematics classes have been taught to view mathematics.


Boekaerts, M. (2002). Motivation to learn. International Bureau of Education: Educational Practices Series – 10

Lepper, M. R., Corpus, J. H., & Iyengar, S. S. (2005). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivational Orientations in the Classroom: Age Differences and Academic Correlates. Journal of Educational Psycholog, 97, 184-196. doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.97.2.184

Middleton, J. A., & Spanias, P. A. (1999). Motivation for Achievement in Mathematics: Findings, Generalizations, and Criticisms of the Research.  Journal for Research in Mathematics Education 30. 65-88

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology 25, 54-67. doi:10.1006/ceps.1999.1020

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Self-Determination Theory and the Facilitation of Intrinsic Motivation, Social Development, and Well-Being. American Psychological Association 55, 68-78. doi: 10.1037110003-066X.55.1.68

Woolfolk, A. (2008). Motivatin in Learning and Teaching. Psychology in Education, 437-479


By Ekasatya Aldila Afriansyah


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